On the last Saturday of May [May 26, 2012], during a clash between Jews and Palestinians near the village of Orif in Samaria, the northern West Bank, a group of youths from the Jewish community of Yitzhar saw Palestinians congregating nearby. A resident and soldier in Yitzhar’s emergency squad claimed that one of the Palestinians was armed. The emergency squad shot in his direction, wounding him in the stomach.
According to an IDF inquiry, immediately after the shooting, a group of youths ran toward the wounded man, caught him, and tied him up. At this point, it became clear the Palestinian was not carrying any weapon. Nonetheless, they began aggressively beating him. IDF soldiers were called to the scene and made the youths stop beating him. According to the inquiry, the IDF saved the wounded and beaten man from a literal lynchmob. Medics treated him on site and moved him to a hospital. Details of the incident reached the police, who launched an investigation. The emergency squad’s weapons were confiscated.
And the youths who beat him? Nothing was done with them. The IDF sent this scandalous response on the matter: “The forces dealt with preventing the conflict from continuing.” So there was no time, will, understanding, desire or interest in arresting the youths and holding them accountable for their actions. By, say, scaring them with a night or two in detention or lecturing them on what they should have already known: that a wounded person, any person — Arab, Christian, enemy or otherwise — was created in God’s image.
The residents of Yitzhar, extreme rightists, MK Michael Ben-Ari or anyone who wants to submit nasty comments on this article are now invited to wag their tongues and invalidate the column on political grounds. This big story which became negligible, marginalized in the news, horrifies me from a humane and educational perspective alone. What to do — politics has nothing to do with young yarmulke-wearing individuals who instead of reading a good book on the holy Sabbath, prefer to beat a wounded man. The right wing’s struggle for a bloody Samaria is not relevant to a brutal act that was also cruel, illegal, a desecration of God’s name and an offense against the Torah.
Another tired complaint about the kid gloves with which the army treats the settlers isn’t the story here. The question reverberating on the seam between Yitzhar and Orim is why children from good homes — from families of academics, from a moral and religious environment, with a belief in the Torah and its emphasis on compassion, benevolence and non-violence — end up in such horrible situations. How could it be that a group of children trapped a man who had just been shot, beat him over his wounds, with nary a one among them — not to mention the adults nearby — protesting and stopping the act out of conscience, no matter his or her political orientation?
An innocent youth is supposed to be horrified by the scent of blood and the screams of a wounded man begging for mercy. Proper education should prompt the offer of assistance, or at least the prevention of a lynching. Parents are supposed to send their children to play soccer or to listen to a lesson at the synagogue. The army is supposed to stop abusers, even if they are young. The military court is supposed to punish them in the name of deterrence. The education system is supposed to treat these incidents with severity and shame. The media should be reporting such incidents as top stories. Educators are supposed to point out the dangerous link between youth involved in violent conflict and a violent and impermeable society. When all of these factors are missing, then there’s really no point in holding elections.
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